Mimicking fire in western US forests

24 04 2010

There is an important book on fire mimicry that was written several years ago that I just came across.  The authors are Stephen Arno and Carl Fiedler, both well-known experts in forest management, and book is titled “Mimicking Nature’s Fire: Restoring Fire-prone Forests in the West” (2005) Island Press.

From the Introduction –

“After decades of studying western forests, the authors recognized that the magnificent old-growth trees that survived and depended on periodic fires disappear when deprived of this essential disturbance process. When forests of these venerable trees are managed using traditional timber harvesting methods, the features that made them famous ultimately disappear. When these forests are protected in ‘natural areas’ that fail to restore the historical role of fire – as in the majority of parks, wilderness, and primitive areas – the big old fire-resistant trees gradually die and are replaced by thickets of small trees. Our experience revealed that long-lived trees and other important features of fire-prone forests can be restored through management that mimics the effects of historical fires. Although research studies and practical examples indicate how to restore forests and reduce potential damage from wildfires, insects, and disease, they get little play in the media. However, it is these topics – scientific findings and real-world management examples – that we bring together in this book.” (my bold – lk)

Also from the Introduction –

“When people learn that more than one hundred million acres of fire-prone western (US) forests harbor deteriorating conditions outside of the historical range of variability, they are struck by the staggering extent of this problem. Given the difficulties of applying restoration, some may judge the situation hopeless. However, our experience suggests that any strategically located restoration treatments can produce noticeable benefits in reducing wildfire hazard to homes and communities and return important features of historical forests.”

Leave it to the experts to explain in abundant detail the critical reasons for implementation of fire mimicry practices to restore our oaks in California.

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